Here’s what you need to know about the new flatworms invading Maine


Hammerhead worms might be an issue for native farmers.

A hammerhead worm. SREEJITH VISWANATHAN through Wikimedia Commons

An invasive flatworm referred to as the hammerhead worm has been noticed in Maine, and it’s each poisonous and onerous to kill, the Bangor Daily News reported.

The worm was first noticed final fall in southern and central Maine, the newspaper reported, and might be a headache for farmers as a result of it’s predatory in the direction of earthworms that are important for wholesome soil.

The worm is named the hammerhead worm as a consequence of its hammerhead shark- or shovel-shaped head. According to the Texas Invasive Species Institute (TISI), the worm is often mild or honey-colored, with one to 5 skinny darkish stripes.

The TISI stated the physique is snake-like, and will be as much as 15 inches lengthy, however is often eight to 12 inches and really slender.

The worm is native to southeast Asia and Vietnam, the TISI stated. It prefers sizzling, humid environments, the institute stated, so it usually lives in tropical and subtropical areas, however may also thrive in greenhouses, which the worm can get into by means of transported mulch and soil.

So far, within the U.S., it has fashioned colonies largely within the South, however has been present in greenhouses as far north as New York and Massachusetts, the TISI stated.

The worm is troublesome to kill as a result of it reproduces asexually by means of a course of referred to as “fragmentation.” The TISI stated this occurs when a small rear portion of the worm pinches off and is left behind because the worm strikes ahead. Within about 10 days, it stated, the top begins to type, and this may occur just a few instances a month. 

The greatest ecological menace the worm poses, the TISI stated, is that it feeds on earthworms, that are very important for the well being of forests, crops, gardens, and composts.

The worm additionally secretes poisonous chemical substances by means of its pores and skin to make itself noxious to predators, the TISI stated. These chemical substances may cause pores and skin irritation in people in the event that they maintain the worm. Additionally, many hammerhead worms carry parasitic nematodes inside them.

Thus, the TISI stated, protected and efficient disposal of the worms is essential.

The institute stated the worms will be killed utilizing citrus oil and salt, citrus oil and vinegar, or vinegar alone. These substances needs to be utilized on to the worm, it stated.

Placing the worm in a sealable plastic bag with these substances is a straightforward means to verify the worm doesn’t crawl away or break up, the TISI stated. It stated to get rid of the bag with the worm inside it, and to watch out to ensure you seize the entire worm.

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